Mynahs, Magpies And More At The Botanics

We are finally back in sultry, sticky Singapore. While primarily a trip to see family and friends, our regular readers will know we have a passion for the birding here. On the strength of this, we commenced our activities 36 hours after landing with a quick dawn visit to the Botanic Gardens, despite a bad case of jetlag hitting both of us hard this time.

We arrived at the Singapore Botanic Gardens just as the sun was rising at 7am on 16th April. With the light still low and the temperature cool, it was a perfect way to get our spotting eyes back in. Our first steps into the park brought us some lively birdsong. Whilst not quite a dawn chorus, there was enough to tease the ears and get the eyes searching for the sources. Louder than most and certainly the most energetic of the morning songsmiths was this Common Iora, making his presence known with a melodic range and no intention of stopping.

The Iora was soon to be drowned out though by the sonorous echoing calls of a Hill Mynah. Perched on one of the highest trees near the Swan Lake, it dominated the morning bird noise.

At home here, we have been awoken by a Hill Mynah every morning here so far. It’s the first bird to sing, starting nearly an hour before the sun rises, as if calling for the daylight to come, a loud echo in the still of the pre-dawn twilight.

As the temperature rose with the growing sunlight Pacific Swallows could be seen catching their insect breakfast, zipping across the lawns at grass height. A patient White-throated Kingfisher scoured the grass for it’s early worm too.

We made our way through the Rainforest Walk where things were somewhat quiet and likely to get quieter still due to the growing footfall of early morning weekend visitors. We did have a most interesting meeting with a family of Red Junglefowl though.

As we approached adjacent to their feeding position, the male strutted onto the boardwalk ahead of us, flexing and spreading his wings, trying to make himself as big and intimidating as possible. The poor light of the Rainforest Walk and not wanting to use flash meant our pics aren’t of the best quality but it is always good to witness some genuine behaviour close up.

Around us Olive-backed Sunbirds chased each other and busied themselves in and out of the flowering blooms whilst the treetops at the gardens were covered with Pink-necked Green Pigeons and Asian Glossy Starlings.

In the brightness of the early morning sun and making their presence well known were a pair of Oriental Pied Hornbills. We soon realised that there was some nest building / courtship happening here as Mrs Sausage captured a food pass between them.

We then watched these large birds make several effortless and elegant flights between two locations, first seperately then meeting together. Whilst not the first time we have seen them, they remain a wonderfully enigmatic bird, both in appearance and behaviour.

Even more obliging, almost tame, were a number of Oriental Magpie Robins we came across. Male, female and juvenile birds were all out in the open and appeared rather oblivious to our presence.

With the juveniles calling out constantly, it looked as if the adults were showing the youngsters where and how to feed, constantly moving around among the leaf litter and bottom of trees but noticeably not actually feeding their offspring.

It offered a very good opportunity to photograph these very active birds and to observe parenting behaviour.

Other sightings on our quick early morning foray included, as always, Yellow-vented Bulbuls, Olive-backed Subnbirds a rather damp looking Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker and of course, a Greater Racket-tailed Drongo (this one minus it’s flamboyant rackets).

We are looking forward to a lot more adventures in our short stay in Singapore and will be posting our experiences here as soon as we can.

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